Yamaha have confirmed that Valentino Rossi will quit at the end of the 2010 MotoGP world championship, the Italian completing a big money switch to rivals Ducati, as was exclusively revealed by MCN at the end of June.
Rossi, who joined Yamaha in a shock exit from Honda at the end of 2003, won four world titles in seven years for the Japanese factory including two in the 990cc era in 2004 and ’05.
He also won two 800cc titles on board a factory YZR-M1 in 2008 and ’09.
A statement from Yamaha tonight in Brno read ‘Valentino has played a huge part in the history of Yamaha and he will always remain an important part of Yamaha's heritage. Yamaha is extremely grateful for Valentino's contributions to its racing successes over the past seven years and it would like to wish him the very best in his future racing endeavours. Yamaha will be putting all its efforts into ensuring a successful and happy end to the partnership over the remaining races.’
Yamaha’s announcement only confirmed that 31-year-old Rossi was leaving in a move that seemed unthinkable as recently as May.
Rossi had always been adamant that he would finish his illustrious career with Yamaha and reiterated that desire at the French Grand Prix at Le Mans.
Yamaha’s announcement made no mention of Rossi’s replacement, with Texan Ben Spies joining Spaniard Jorge Lorenzo in 2011.
Lin Jarvis, Managing Director of Yamaha Motor Racing, said "On behalf of the Yamaha Motor Group, I would like to express our sincere gratitude for the amazing seven years that we have spent together. Valentino joined Yamaha in 2004 at a moment when Yamaha was struggling in road racing after eleven seasons without a championship victory. Valentino's victory at his first GP race for Yamaha in South Africa in 2004 was an incredible moment and was just the first of many more race wins that have thrilled MotoGP fans and Yamaha fans around the world.
"His unsurpassed skills as a racer and a development rider enabled him to win four MotoGP world titles to date with us and helped Yamaha develop the YZR-M1 into the ‘the bike of reference' for the MotoGP class. There have been so many wonderful experiences and victories and we are very proud to have been able to make history together. Whilst we regret Vale's decision to move on, at the same time we f fully respect his decision to search for a new challenge and we wish him the very best for 2011 and beyond.
"For the remaining eight races of 2010 Valentino will remain a Yamaha Factory rider. As such he will continue to benefit from our full support and we hope and expect to see some more race wins with him ‘in blue' before the season is over.”x